‘God Doesn’t Want Canned Christianity’

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2 Samuel 5:22 And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. 24 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 25And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer. ESV

The first time David faced the Philistines the Lord told him to go straight at them. The second time he faced the enemy the Lord told him to go around to the side and wait. Why did God change David’s method?

Perhaps the Lord did so in order to keep David from depending upon methods. I once heard J. Vernon McGee say that the Holy Spirit could not show up in the average church on Sunday morning and few would realize it. In other words, we have become so polished and perfected in our methods that we can “do church” without having to seek the hand of God. Unfortunately much of our Christianity has become so canned that it often appears to be counterfeit.

How different that is from the ways of the early church.

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ESV

Note – it was while the church was praying and fasting that the Holy Spirit spoke and revealed His will. Note also that after the church understood the Spirit’s will, they continued to pray and fast for the Spirit’s power.

There is something else that we must see in our lesson from 2 Samuel is almost comical. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” God used the wind in the tops of trees to distract the enemy and make them think they were surrounded so that David could more easily defeat them.

It might surprise us to know that God often works in very practical ways. Recently Tammy and I were traveling back from vacation and at one point in our journey we needed to change interstates. I’ve made this change numerous times and even now I can envision it in my mind. Yet as we were traveling along I suddenly realized that we were on a road we had never been on before. Thankfully we have a GPS and so I just kept following the directions that eventually put us on the right road. What happened? Did I carelessly make a mistake? Perhaps. Or perhaps the Lord caused me to get on a different road for a very special reason. Perhaps the Lord knew that there was wreck up ahead and He was helping His children to avoid it. I’ll only know for sure once I get to heaven, but in my spirit I could feel the Spirit’s comfort that He was watching over us and guiding us.

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